Finally the debate can be silenced, if only for a short time. But, for now, the question of Kobe or Jordan has been answered. Jordan... obviously.
Amidst all of the history surrounding a renewal of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry, there was another sports discussion taking place in NBA circles. Kobe Bryant is the proud owner of 3 NBA Championships, all of which he won with Shaq patroling the paint. In 2004, Kobe and the Lakers made it back to the Finals, but without Shaq, the question surfaced: Can Kobe win one on his own?
Michael Jordan never, NEVER, had a player of Shaq's caliber by his side for any of those 6 titles that he won with the Bulls. Scottie Pippen was a great compliment, but was no Shaq. So Jordan was able to win more with less talent than those Lakers teams of 2000-2002 had. If Shaq hadn't been on those teams, would Kobe have been able to bring home those titles alone?
I think it's obvious that this series has proved that Kobe is not quite on Jordan's level. Jordan was able to drag his entire team to victory if he had too. Kobe has never done that. Michael would never have allowed his team to blow a 24 point lead in a must win game in the NBA Finals, but Kobe did. Michael never complained about being guarded by 3 or 4 defenders when he had a bad shooting night, but Kobe did that in last night's press confrence.
Don't get me wrong, I think Kobe is, by far, the best player in the league right now. But as far as the Kobe vs. MJ discussion goes... I think we can put that one to bed. All you Kobe fans, call me after he wins 2 rings without Shaq, and then we'll have something to talk about.
Mark Van Paasschen